Take the drive
A warm and gratifying Orland lunch date the day before Thanksgiving
Farwood Bar & Grill705 Fifth St.
Orland, CA 95963
’Twas the day before Thanksgiving, and my friend Connie and I decided to take a little road trip. We headed west on Highway 32 to Orland—two towns over and about 20 miles from Chico. Our destination: Farwood Bar & Grill, on the corner of Fifth Street and Highway 32 (aka Walker Street). We’d heard good things and wanted to check out the place.
It was about 2:30 p.m. when we walked through the front door. We agreed later that we were immediately impressed by the warmth of the interior, which hit us like a snuggly blanket thrown around our shoulders after coming in from the chill. The deep-brown, glossy woods of the restaurant’s bar area and dining-room chairs were of particular note.
We were seated near a family of four, on the other side of a discreet dividing curtain that separated us—the last of the day’s lunch diners—from the folks bellying up to the bar for a holiday drink.
The bar, incidentally, looks like a wonderful place to belly up to; the grand, carved-wood section of it that serves as a backdrop to the bartender’s back-and-forth movements was made in Europe in 1850, we were told, and shipped to San Francisco, where it was enjoyed by an unnamed establishment’s patrons until it arrived in Orland in 1916, where it was installed in the exact place it sits today. It reminded me of the stately bar inside The Palace Restaurant and Saloon in Prescott, Ariz., where Doc Holliday and Wyatt and Virgil Earp spent considerable time in the late 1870s.
We perused the fairly extensive lunch menu with a little less leisure than we might otherwise have done, as Connie had not eaten all day due to a flurry of pre-Thanksgiving chores and was famished. Fish and chips ($10.99), chicken pot pie ($11.99), Cajun shrimp pasta ($12.99) and The Big Blue, a double Kobe-beef burger with blue cheese, bacon and A1 sauce on fresh-baked brioche ($12.99) were some of the hearty-sounding items that caught our eye.
As it was, Connie ordered a steak salad—grilled steak, sautéed onions and mushrooms, cucumber, tomato and homemade croutons on a lettuce bed—with blue-cheese crumbles ($12.99, plus 50 cents for blue cheese), and I ordered a Greek-style pasta dish ($9.99) consisting of penne tossed with artichoke hearts, grilled zucchini, Kalamata olives, sun-dried tomatoes, parsley, lemon juice and feta cheese. Connie ordered her meat medium-rare and asked that the mushrooms be left off of her salad. We both ordered tea to drink—hot tea for Connie ($1.99) and a fresh-brewed iced tea with mango syrup for me ($2.39).
Our very friendly server, Sandra, had our beverages and a basket of warm French bread and butter to us in short order. Our main dishes were not far behind.
My pasta was delightful—warm, tasty, comforting. The lemon, feta and zippy olives added just the right complementary tang to the mellowness of the noodles and squash. Connie enjoyed her salad—after she picked off the mushrooms that were sprinkled over it. “That’s my only criticism,” she told me later of the mushroom mistake. Her meat was closer to rare than medium-rare—not a criticism, she said, just something to take note of when ordering steak at Farwood.
We left Orland pleased with our discovery and contentedly satiated. It’s nice not to have to cook the day before Turkey Day—and it was especially nice to have Farwood’s delicious food to enjoy.
As Connie said on the drive back to Chico, “I’m curious what dinner is like there.”
Me, too. Beer-battered, house-smoked onion rings ($8.99) and pan-seared fresh Alaskan salmon with caper-dill butter and Massa Organics brown-rice pilaf ($18.99) sound like mighty fine reasons to head out of town on a cold December evening.